Winner announced for National Railway Museum central hall

31 March 2020
  • Feilden Fowles


United Kingdom

Feilden Fowles create elegant rotunda to enhance visitor experience

The team led by Feilden Fowles has won the international design competition to create a new central hall for the National Railway Museum in York, UK. Organised by Malcolm Reading consultants, the contest sought iconic designs to transform the visitor arrival experience and integrate the museum’s estate in time for its 50th anniversary in 2025. The winning proposal was popular with the public, who were able to see the finalists’ schemes in a free exhibition and online gallery.

Located at the centre of York, the museum sits within a larger industrial site that was originally developed by the North Eastern Railway Company. Inspired by the site’s former uses, Feilden Fowles referenced the history of locomotive roundhouses and railway turntables by creating a central two-storey rotunda. On entering, the visitor’s gaze will be drawn upwards to the engineered ceiling, stitched together with radials of UK-sourced douglas fir. A first-floor balcony offers views of York, while at ground level five portals will lead to different parts of the museum.

The concept expresses the team’s low-tech philosophy, reducing reliance on concrete and steel to lower embodied carbon through the timber frame structure. A combination of passive design principles and active systems are proposed to reduce the site-wide operational carbon footprint by 80 per cent.

The museum, part of the Science Museum Group, is poised to become the cultural anchor for York Central, one of the largest city centre brownfield regeneration projects in the UK and Europe. Judith McNicol, Director of the National Railway Museum, said: ‘Feilden Fowles demonstrated a real sensitivity to the site’s railway heritage and to the historic character of the city of York. The building will play a vital role in linking the museum and will provide a focal point for the wider York Central development.”

Lucy Nordberg
TenderStream Head of Research

This competition was first published by TenderStream on 11.09.2019 here

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